Friday, September 09, 2005

Berger fined for mishandling classified documents

Former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was fined today as part of his sentence for mishandling classified documents. The going rate for knowingly stuffing secret documents into your pants and jacket and totally contravening security measures you've sworn to uphold? $50,000.

That's right, folks. The Nation Security Advisor for the President of the United States - arguably the single most cleared person in the country and the one most familiar with both the security process and the ramifications of compromise of that process - deliberately stole classified documents and smuggled them out the door hidden in his jacket and pants and he has to pay a fine of $50,000. Oh, and 100 hours of community service and 2 years' probation. And let's not forget, he had to "surrender his access" to such classified documents for a period of 3 years.

Want to know what would have happened had a political nobody such as myself had done such a thing? There would have been no fine at all, because depending on what documents I took, I'd be strapped to a gurney and have a needle full of a very toxic cocktail stuck in my arm. At the very least, I'd be going to jail for decades, if not for the remainder of my life. Sandy Berger should have been held to the same standard. It's not like he didn't know what he was doing. It's not like - in spite of his earlier lies to the contrary - he made an honest mistake. He knew full well what he was doing and he knew equally well it was against the law not to mention his oath to do no such thing. Berger should have been sent to jail for a long time. As for his "access", it should have been revoked, on a permanent basis, not "surrendered" for 3 years. Who can trust this man with classified documents again?

Certainly not me.